UPDATED, May 14, 5:07 p.m.: A 230-unit apartment development in Lake Worth Beach won city approval after the developer qualified for “bonus” levels of building height and density that exceed standard zoning limits.
Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved the apartment complex, called Advantis, as a cluster of four residential buildings that will range from three stories to five stories.
Consulting firm WGI, the project manager, applied for approval of the development on behalf of Prospect Real Estate Group, LLC, of New Smyrna Beach, Florida, led by Richard G. Zahn and Michele Zahn.
Miami-based Lake Worth Investment Group, LLC owns the 6.39-acre development site at the northwest corner of 10th Avenue North and Boutwell Road in Lake Worth Beach. The entity, led by Ana Rodriguez Pastor, bought the vacant development site in 2013 for $925,000, records show.
Prospect Real Estate has a contract to buy the site from Lake Worth Investment, said Yoan Machado of WGI.
Monthly rents at Advantis will range from $1,275 to $1,350 for 104 one-bedroom units, $1,450 to $1,600 for 117 two-bedrooms, and $1,750 to $1,850 for nine three-bedroom apartments.
After approving the apartment development, Lake Worth Beach commissioners tweaked the city’s “sustainable bonus” program to increase allowable cash payments made by developers in exchange for “bonus” entitlements that essentially embody zoning variances.
All real estate developments taller than two stories, or 30 feet, in Lake Worth Beach are subject to mandatory enrollment in the city’s sustainable bonus incentive program. The program is based on a formulaic calculation of each developer’s obligation to make a cash payment to the city’s sustainable infrastructure fund, or alternatively, to design their projects with certain “sustainable” features, in lieu of a cash payment.
“We are asking them to do something extra, something that is not required by any code,” William Waters, the city’s director of community sustainability, told commissioners.
The developer’s financial obligation is equal to $5 per square foot in projects exceeding two stories, and it increases to $10 per square foot if the developer requests more building height or density than zoning allows.
Since 2012, only one development subject to the sustainable bonus program has generated a cash payment to the city. Every other developer that participated in the program avoided making a cash payment by opting to include site-plan features not required by code.
For example, the developer of Advantis avoided paying $490,215 to the city’s sustainability fund by including such site plan elements as a dog park, a small playground for young children, a meandering sidewalk, a swimming pool and deck area, a fitness area and a school bus shelter. The developer also pledged to obtain Florida green building certification for the apartment complex.
City commissioners approved an ordinance that created a special zoning district at the Advantis development site, a site plan, and bonus levels of building height and density. The bonuses raised maximum height from 30 feet to 81 feet, 3 inches, and maximum residential density from 30 dwelling units per acre to 37.5 units.
Commissioners also discussed a possible moratorium on accepting applications for developments two stories or taller that would be subject to the sustainable bonus program.
Instead, the commission unanimously approved a resolution that requires developers of projects subject to the bonus program to pay at least half of their obligation to the city’s sustainable infrastructure fund in cash. The payment would be due when, and if, the developer applies for a building permit.
The resolution also eliminated several types of site plan features that developers previously could adopt in lieu of a cash payment. These include facilities for active recreation (pools and gyms, for example) and passive recreation (such as community centers and pool cabanas) as well dog parks, small playgrounds for young children, and “public” art that the off-site public cannot see.
The new changes to the city’s sustainable bonus program apply only to real estate developments in the conceptual, pre-application phase. The city will continue processing applications for developments subject to the sustainable bonus program through a process known as zoning-in-progress.
Waters suggested that commissioners adopt the zoning-in-progress option because “it would not send as negative of a message as a moratorium might.”